Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Q&A with Gayle Forman!

So my blogging schedule is a teeny bit messed up right now, but over this week I have plans to get it all sorted so hopefully things will be back to regularity next week- but to tide us over I have a fantastic Q&A that I did with the excellent Gayle Forman, author of If I stay, Where she went, Just one day, and soon to be published Just one year. Enjoy! (I did another Q&A with Gayle a few years ago, if you'd like to see that, too.)

1.      What is something you love the most about/when creating a new story?
The thing I love most, the thing that always seems miraculous to me, is how the story sometimes seems to come together as if it were already written somewhere deep inside of you. There's an alchemy to writing, a magic. You'll start out in the morning with a vague idea of where you're going and then as you're working, you'll realize that something you just wrote connects back to something 100 pages earlier. You didn't consciously lay that groundwork, but there it is. This "magic" happens at different times with different books. Sometimes it happens during your first draft, and that's a pretty gratifying experience. Sometimes it doesn't come until deep into revisions. You have to take a leap of faith when you start something new, that you'll get to this place.

2.      Do you keep a writing schedule/have a specific kind of routine?
When I'm drafting/revising, I'm pretty disciplined (all those years of working as a journalist helped with this). After I get the kids off to school, I head straight up my office. And I often work until 2 or 3, when I have to go pick up the girls. My desk gets really messy with coffee cups and dirty plates and often by quitting time, I've neglected to eat/shower/ think about dinner/make the beds. Some days,  I'll wrap up sooner. If I know I've hit a good end point or I'm hitting a wall but mostly I'll try to put in a full day's work. I try not to let other things, like email and social media interfere when I'm at this stage. I'm not always so successful. The other times are less structured. I might spend a few hours working on marketing ideas, or writing a blog post or some business aspect of what I do and then do something fun, like work in the garden or go on a school field trip with my kids. I just spent two years writing back-to-back books, so there hasn't been a lot of time for the less structured days. I'm looking forward to things being a bit more mellow for a while.

3.      If you could spend 24 hours with a character from each of your books, which ones would you choose?

You're making me choose? Let's see. From If I Stay, Mia. From Where She Went, Adam. Those are the obvious ones. From Just One Day, Dee, Allyson's best friend. I wish he were real. And from Just One Year, Kate. You'll know what I mean when you read that one.

4.      What is your favourite word?

5.      What one thing do you always need, so that you can write?

Thank you so much for answering my questions, Gayle!

Gayle's books go by the names If I stay, Where she went, Just one day, and soon to be published Just one year.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Books for when you're... (7)

Each fortnight I will showcase 1-2 books that I think would be fantastic reading if you're going through a  certian emotion/stage in your life.

Books for when you want to have a fictional friend (part 2).
There were so many books I wanted to feature in which I have found friends, fictional or otherwise, that this had to be a two part spot. Of course there are many, many more books that I would recommend, but these final two are absolute favourites.

Howls Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.
Why I chose this book:
I chose this book because of Howl and Sophie and Calcifer, because of the dear friends I made and re-make each time I go back within the pages. I chose this book because Howl, despite being flamboyant and unpredictable and terribly unreliable, is an excellent human being and he cares, if not always openly, about the people he loves about. Because Sophie is strong and unwilling to let something pass if it's wrong just because it's easier, because she is fiesty and loving and understanding and loves flowers. Because I have always, always had a bond with Calcifer, the hot-headed thing.

Why I chose this book:
I make no secret of my outright love for the character Luna Lovegood, and she is being featured here today; even though they become her friends, best of friends, later on, I dislike the fact that people don't understand Luna, that Hermione, always so strong and level headed, doesn't take the time to understand her because she doesn't agree with her, and I dislike that Luna seems alone, even with Ginny. If we were to go to school together, we wouldn't be like friends, we'd be like a really small gang.

Stay tuned for some more bookish suggestions for the good times, and the bad.
So far I've covered-

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

All This Could End by Steph Bowe.

Title- All This Could End.
Author- Steph Bowe.
Publish date- February 2013.
Publisher- Text Publishing.



What I thought:
All This Could End was a very enjoyable read for me- I found the characters to be very fun and I connected with them, it was quick and extremely fast reading for me, getting 150 pages read in a day without even working at it, and it came at the perfect time for me.

I found the Nina and Spencer, the protagonists, to be fun characters with a good amount of depth, something that I often find is lacking even in protagonists- they connect very quickly after their initial meeting (which I did find questionable because Nina makes sure she doesn't make lasting friendships and Spencer doesn't talk to people often) and I just wish there could have been more time spent with the two growing together. Instead, after their first day together it basically skips forward a few weeks and then continues to skip until a later point in time; I thought if it had gone more slowly, focused less on getting the plot to the spot in time it needed to be for the end scenes, which was December (the novel starting in December and then going backwards in time to April), or even had a shorter length of time to cover it would have been more enjoyable. Instead it did feel uncomfortably raced and the characters, I feel, could have been developed more than they were.
The characters themselves I found to be pretty awesome- Nina I had a few problems with, particularly towards the end with the choices she made and the way she looked at life, and I didn't think she had an awful lot of backbone, but I throughly enjoyed the trivia she learnt as a pastime. Also she refers to her conscience as being a "bitch" on the second or third page, which I enjoyed.
Spencer definitely took the place of favourite character; he loves words that aren't in the English language, lost words, words like Vergangenheitsbewaltigung, a German word that means "coming to terms with the past", and it's something I enjoy myself and I loved the fact that I recognised some of the words he spoke of.

I really like the feel of the cover, though I'm perplexed by the fact that the female, presumably supposed to be Nina, appears to be wearing some kind of life-jacket dress; it could be a dress, but the shoulders look like they've got a strange thickness to them, like shoulder pad thickness, so that didn't make much sense to be- one of my favourite things about this cover is that it actually has a link to the book; I'm not a huge fan of books that have a cover that then has nothing to do with the book, no matter how exquisite they are (okay, if they're really exquisite it won't bother me too much, but still), but the water scene pictured actually is in the book and that made me really happy. It's also in fairly soon in, so that was also a good point.

I don't like the main part of the synopsis, found online in a different form to what is shown on the back of the book, which I only just noticed, which suggests Nina's mother, who runs the bank heists, asks her children if they want to take part.
She does not ask. She presumes, she takes advantage of, and she does. not. ask. I'm glad that the book cover has it written truer to the story.

(I should probably note the heists, seeing as that's a fairly big part of the storyline- they didn't feature very prominently, recollections of past ones are mentioned and one actually takes place in the story. I certainly felt that it added an excellent and otherwise unexpected element to the story.)

I found this incredibly quick to read- I felt that the story was important and interesting and I really did enjoy it; there were points, as mentioned above, that I wasn't a massive fan of, but I was really pleased with it and enjoyed the reading experience a lot.

Rating: Excellent-
I really enjoyed this and can see myself re-reading it in the future; I liked the characters a lot and the storyline was fresh and interesting. It never quite managed to be an all out stunning read, but I don't regret reading it, it just never became overwhelmingly brilliant.

Thank you to Text Publishing for this review copy!